Relationships drastically change after having a baby. The spark between you and your partner can wane as a result of sleep deprivation, vomit and poo, and your focus is on spending every waking moment tending to the new being you’ve brought into the world.
So how do you find intimacy and love when it’s not the first reaction, and you suddenly have to work for it?
Ginny Lindsay is a psychotherapist and couples counsellor at From 2 to 3, and she gives tips for reigniting the electricity between the two of you.
Listen to Ginny on Kinderling Conversation:
1. Talk about your new roles
For the main caretaker in a new family, their role has changed. They’re learning on the job, every minute of the day. It’s a new experience that’s constantly changing as the baby does. However, for the breadwinner of the family, their role largely remains the same.
Both parents need to understand what it means to give the majority care to a young child. It’s important to sit down as a parenting couple and look at how life now works. Have the discussion around who’s going to stay with the baby, and what hours the worker might realistically have free to give at home. You both need breaks and time off, so discussing who does what is crucial.
2. Communicate often and well
Have regular conversations about how you’re feeling and when you’re each having time out. When people don’t converse, we don’t compromise and this is when the resentment sets in. Think about how you can work together to protect your new family unit, ensuring everyone’s needs are met and that you’re both happy.
People have purpose outside of just being a parent; so ask each other what your dreams and aspirations are. Discuss how can you support each other to work towards these goals in the midst of having a new child. Talk about your shared plans for the future that both of you are going to work towards.
3. Show your love in simple ways
Find simple ways of showing love in those difficult first days of adjusting to parenting. Parents should get to know each other’s 'love language', so perhaps it’s about giving flowers, or spending time - whatever will make your partner feel loved.
4. Share in the stress
Couples distance themselves from one another emotionally and physically when they feel stressed. Women in particular can be very good at that if they feel they are not appreciated or respected. Sometimes this can be unconsciously. Ensure that you’re supporting each other across the board to find your way back to each other.
5. Aim for an active sex life
All couples reach a place where they’re tired and not interested in the physical side of the relationship. It’s about finding how to overcome that and find the space for your partner again. Sex is a major part of intimacy and the ultimate act of vulnerability in a relationship. When that wanes, for men in particular, it’s often a bigger issue than it is for women. Look at what might be preventing you from being intimate with your partner. Make sure both of you are supporting each other so you are less tired and will want more physical touch.
6. Spend quality time together
Commit to at least four hours a week of actually making time for each other. One idea is to alternate who’s organising your quality time, to make it a surprise. Think creatively about how you can do things differently to keep up the spice, instead of falling into a rut. This goes a long way towards making each other feel special, which keeps you both keen to return the effort and keep the spark alive.
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